Controlled Improvisation

About two years ago, I returned to oil paints after working largely in acrylics for some time since college. Oil painting is a medium loved by both patrons and artists alike. Speaking as an artist, the dynamic and control I enjoy in oils are unmatched by any other painting medium I have worked with. That said, there are many scientific scenarios that the artist must understand in order to get the most out of this particular medium.

Because the pigment is suspended in oil, it sets up and dries through a chemical process called oxidation, as opposed to evaporation which takes place in other water-based paints such as acrylic or watercolor. Knowing how the paint and whatever additives an artist puts into the oil (such as a varnish) behave and dry is crucial in making a painting that will stand the test of time. Without this knowledge, an oil painting is subject to premature deterioration and cracking.

My point is- producing art with oil paint is a balance of spontaneity with a certain level of planning. It has been challenging for me to switch gears, not only in terms of the type of paint I use (going from acrylic to oil), but learning how to balance the planning that goes behind oil painting while maintaining the creative freedom of impulsiveness and intuition. Ultimately, my art is a search for harmony, between the chemist and the artist, to create alchemy on canvas.

Facing Myself

I just finished my third self-portrait painting. Of the other two I had done previously, I exhibited only one, so I still consider myself relatively new at this. I remember the reaction from others on the work I exhibited last time (a few years ago)- some people didn't recognize the figure as me, while others differed in their opinion of how it was rendered and were critical. Criticism certainly comes with the territory, but particularly in the instance of a self-portrait, I was more inclined to defend my point of view... call it foolish pride ;). I believe this portrait certainly looks more like me and though I will no doubt do better next time, this is the best I could do for now.

I believe this portrait, entitled, "Awakening: A Self-Portrait," captures the essence of me. In doing that, I believe I have achieved success in the piece, although technically, I can still represent myself better. I learned a great deal from doing this work and am actually anxious to explore the subject again.